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Apache Lake, Arizona

Apache Lake, Arizona

Apache Lake is a 17-mile long impoundment of the Salt River about 65 miles east of Phoenix. The scoop on Apache Lake is provided by Bassmaster Elite pro Cliff Pirch who claims nobody enjoys the outdoors in the southwest more than he. "Apache is a great lake for lots of quality (2- to 4-pound) largemouth and smallmouth with a good shot at an 8- to 10-pound trophy largemouth."

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Steep (45°) gravel and chunk rock banks produce 2- to 4-pound smallmouth early in the day. Pirch relies on an inline spinner and favors a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce Panther Martin. It doesn't get much easier.

By mid morning and for the rest of the day, Pirch searches rock piles and ledges for a mixed catch of largemouth and smallmouth. Apache is a deep, canyon lake. The "magic depth" is 20 to 30 feet. Searching the shoreline for rubble slides can tip you off to a near-shore rock pile, but most of the deep structure is best located with your side scan sonar. Look for depth breaks, then search the 20- to 30-foot zone for fish.  

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Pirch teases bites from the deep structure with a football jig or a dropshot. Pirch likes Roboworm in oxblood light or Cliff's Perch colors.

If you get bored catching quality largemouth and smallmouth in Apache, follow the Salt River downstream to Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake where the same patterns work but heaving an 8- to 12-inch rainbow trout swimbait is likely to connect you with a double-digit largemouth.

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